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Book Review: Black Hills By Nora Roberts

Title: Black Hills
Author: Nora Roberts
Paperback: 472 pages
Publisher: Putnam (July 7th 2009)
Genre: Romance
Read: Paperback
Stars: ***/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Goodreads)
A summer at his grandparents’ South Dakota ranch is not eleven-year-old Cooper Sullivan’s idea of a good time. But things are a bit more bearable now that he’s discovered the neighbor girl, Lil Chance, and her homemade batting cage. Even horseback riding isn’t as awful as Coop thought it would be. Each year, with Coop’s annual summer visit, their friendship deepens from innocent games to stolen kisses, but there is one shared experience that will forever haunt them: the terrifying discovery of a hiker’s body.

As the seasons change and the years roll, Lil stays steadfast to her aspiration of becoming a wildlife biologist and protecting her family land, while Coop struggles with his father’s demand that he attend law school and join the family firm. Twelve years after they last walked together hand in hand, fate has brought them back to the Black Hills when the people and things they hold most dear need them most.

Lil and Coop both know the natural dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. Now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey.

My Review:

I’ve been reading a lot of Indian authors lately hence thought I’d take a break and read a Nora Roberts. Looking around at the library I came across one of her recent books – Black Hills. The premise sounded interesting, and it was about the big cats so I picked it up. The story is about Lillian and Cooper who become friends as children and grow up together over the years. Teenage love blossoms but slides away as they both follow their dreams and part ways. Years later, Cooper finds his way back to his grandparents farm and his life in South Dakota while Lillian has fulfilled her dream of setting up a refuge for wild animals where she cares and rehabilitates them. The plot thickens as animals get killed and people go missing in the hills. Pretty soon it becomes clear that Lillian is the target and all of this is being done to threaten her.

The characters were believable enough but nothing really stood out for me about them. There is of course the hero and heroine – Cooper and Lillian. But aside from them there are a lot of other characters – Joe and Jenna (Lillian’s parents), Sam and Lucy (Coopers Grandparents), Farley, Tansy, Brad, Matt, Eric and a few others who are friends of Coop and Lil or work with them. Not to forget the villian – Ethan Howe. There are moments when you can immediately associate with the characters but its off and on through the book.

It was the setting of the book that drew me to it and that has been done well. Roberts describes the hills, it’s trails, the farms and the land well and I could see it all in my minds eye as the book progressed. I’ve never been to South Dakota but if the book is true it must be beautiful. Roberts has done a good job of describing forests and the trails through it.

Lillian is in love with the cougar who she sees as her spirit guide and the book has lots of anecdotes and information about the various big cats. I did learn a few things about them and the differences between them too. From the cat perspective the book does seem well researched. The book also raises questions about how natural a refuge can be, after-all an enclosure is a cage even though it is a large natural enclosure. But then again nothing can replace the wild and in a refuge you can only do so much. Roberts talks about all that the animals need to keep them safe and healthy and why sometimes enclosures are needed to be able to do that.

The best bit of the book for me (if you haven’t realised it already) were the animals. But that was also its drawback, as everything else seemed lost in it. The story plays out well almost until the last 50-100 pages. The villian is depicted well and you keep wondering about the showdown at the end. Towards the latter half of the book you can almost guess the end but when it does come it’s quick and short.

If I had to change one thing in the book, I’d make the showdown longer and more dramatic. As it is, it’s almost as if the witer after 400 pages got tired and just tied it all up to finish the book. The end was disappointing!

Considering the language I’d say this is a book for young adults and above but worth only one read. Definitely not worth a re-read.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

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